Music games were a fad in the latter half of the last decade. These titles helped garner interest in playing music, but did not actually teach people to play music. Ubisoft came along and upped the ante with Rocksmith. The title could be considered more of a tool as compared to a game. With a special cable and a vast library of downloadable songs, anyone with an instrument can give this title a try. Now, Ubisoft is releasing the 2014 version of the game. Looking to add more tools and additional gaming aspects, is it worth the upgrade for anyone who purchased the first one?
Plain and simple, Rocksmith is a great way to get into playing music without the pressure of having someone teach you. This allows you to learn at your own pace, rather it be bass, rhythm, or lead guitar. This can be chosen from the opening menu. There are tons of tutorial videos and exercises that teach you everything from stringing guitars to playing bends and chords. If you are unfamiliar with the setup of how the actual game plays, it’s much like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The screen is a vertical scrolling note reel, but with an actual instrument, it focuses on three regions. It will alternate right to left during the songs based on what section is coming up. This can be a bit much at first, but when learning songs they cannot be failed, and the game brings you along very slowly before introducing new techniques.
Rocksmith 2014 is not a game to pick up and play. If you played the first one, you’ll know exactly what to expect. The biggest draw will most likely be the songs. There is a strong selection of songs on 2014. If you are new to the game, keep in mind this is not Guitar Hero or Rock Band. You will need an instrument, rather it be a bass or guitar. Rocksmith 2014 offers a bundle that comes with a real guitar and the special cable for $199.99. Otherwise, the game with the cable is $79.99, and if you already have the cable, it’s $59.99. A lot of time and effort is required to be successful for this game, but as stated above, this is more of a tool. You have to have the time, interest, and patience for learning guitar.
As compared to the other music games, lag on HDTV’s is a problem. Rock Band and Guitar Hero had a good way of tuning this automatically. Unfortunately, Rocksmith 2014 does not. It can be difficult to nail down the right setting and can take some time to play with.
When it comes to the actual gameplay, much like playing guitar, frustration will be involved. But the possibility of having more in this instance is there. Working on finger placement while looking at a screen is difficult. Yes, Rocksmith 2014 will slow things down, and you can go back and to separate sections and different speeds. Practice makes perfect, and there’s no better example of that with this title. The input is responsive, even on the Guitarcade.
Speaking of the Guitarcade, this mode focuses on exercises under the technique games. With a homage to classic arcade style games (it even shows the old school ROM loading screen), it is a fun and addicting way to work on the mechanics of playing guitar. Every stereotype of a 1980’s arcade game is featured and somehow relates to working on things such as fretting, chords, scales, and so on. Also under the Guitarcade is the Score Attack mode. This is akin to Guitar Hero and Rock Band as you aim for a score, and can fail this time. Lastly, the Leaderboard Challenge will give you goals to meet. So there’s a good amount of fun to be had once you have a grasp on playing guitar.
Rocksmith 2014 also features a new Session Mode. Once you are ready to jam with a band, you can set up to four instruments to play with. You can also set the type of sound that fits your need. There is also a Tone Designer that will allow you to set up custom sounds as you unlock specific parts for ampifiers. Set up a Marshall stack to get the sound that you are looking for.
To close out all there is to do in Rocksmith 2014, there is a multiplayer mode. This is offline only, and will require two cables. You can assign a role and jam with someone. Lastly, there’s Nonstop Play which allows you to create a setlist and play for up to an hour straight. If you’re ready to play real shows, this is a good way to test your attrition.
In a game like this, graphics do not really play that much of a part. They shine where they need to, as the in-game fretboard is colorful, as are the Guitarcade games. The menus are easily navigable, but there are a lot of options to sort through.
The sound quality is at the top of the game. In a music game, it obviously has to be. The songs sound crisp and as they are intended. Gone is the audio lag from strumming from the previous Rocksmith. With a very diverse library in Rocksmith 2014, anyone can find some songs they want to learn and others they want to explore. Even the teacher in the lessons sounds the part of a guitar tutor. As for the games in the Guitarcade, the 8-bit sounds do their part.
To further exhibit Rocksmith 2014 as a tool rather than a game is the lack of online functionality. With all these modes that involve logging points, there isn’t even online leaderboards. There should also be no reason why you couldn’t jam with random people or friends over the internet. Lastly, with the Tone Designer, there are a lot of sounds that could be created. These could be shared and downloaded over the internet, but there is no option to do so.
What Rocksmith 2014 comes down to is that it is an excellent tool to learn to play guitar or bass from the comfort of your own home. The game gives you a direction and brings you along slowly, but will garner frustration in the process. It gives an excellent sensation of accomplishment and reward when pulling off solos or tough sections of a song. The reason for this is that you have truly earned it. The Guitarcade adds a fun element to this title, but some sort of online functionality would have been nice. There are hours and hours of things to do in Rocksmith 2014 to really appreciate it, but the dedication has to be there for the person interested.
+ An excellent tool to learn to play guitar or bass from the comfort of your living room at an acceptable pace.
+ Guitarcade features a cool throwback to 80s arcade game while working on certain mechanics.
+ The sensation of reward and accomplishment is great when learning tough sections of songs.
- Can be expensive to get started.
- HDTV Lag Setup.
- Lack of online functionality.